Monthly Archives: May 2011

CLE Your Way: DVD, CD, MP3 & MP4 CLE Courses

I just wanted to take the time to update an earlier post from December on CLE Your Way. As you could probably surmise, CLE Your Way is exactly that – CLE how you want it, when you want it.

We know that you have incredibly busy personal and professional life. And the last thing on your mind is fulfilling your MCLE compliance. That’s where CLE Your Way comes into play. We now offer DVD, CD, and MP3 courses for attorneys who would rather study offline.

When we first began offering online CLE courses, we thought that attorneys would enjoy an all-online format – especially the ability to take classes immediately via online via streaming video. However, we have realized that there are attorneys who would don’t want to sit in front of a computer to take CLE courses.

That’s why we have created CLE Your Way. You can now take CLE classes on your iPadsmartphone, or MP3 player. For online study we offer streaming audio and video. For offline study we feature DVDs, CDs, and MP3s. We even have an MP4 video format that you can download and view on your iPad. With CLE Your Way you can now take your CLE courses on the T.V. in the living room or on the flight to New York.

We first started offering DVD, CD and MP3 CLE courses to California attorneys in December. Since we have had so much success in California, we are now offering CLE Your Way for attorneys in Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois. And if you are an attorney licensed in Illinois, there is still time to order CDs or DVDs and beat the June 30th MCLE deadline in your state. A typical CD or DVD compliance package sells for around $159.99 and can be delivered in 4-5 days with normal shipping rates.

How do you prefer to take your CLE courses?

June 30: The Illinois MCLE Deadline

“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday” – Abraham Lincoln

Spot on Mr. Lincoln! After all, what is the purpose of continuing legal education (CLE)? Is it just another burden placed upon you by your State Bar? For some it may be … however, smart attorneys utilize CLE – whether it be live or online – to become a wiser practitioner. Because if you are not perpetually moving forward, you are constantly being left behind.

I think that many attorneys feel like they are omniscient once they pass their state bar and begin practicing. However, is the world the same place it was just a decade ago? Ten years ago, 9/11 hadn’t happened yet and Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn didn’t even exist. Things move fast on our new Digital Age. Was CLE the same as it was ten years ago? I bet you could count the number of online CLE providers on one hand.

And back to the words of Mr. Lincoln – one of Illinois’ most renowned attorneys and political figures – education is not only the wise thing to, it’s mandatory if you want to keep your law license in Illinois. That’s because Illinois attorneys are running out of time to complete their mandatory 24 unit minimum (including 4 legal ethics) continuing legal education requirement.

By my estimations there are 35 days left for Illinois attorneys with last names beginning N through Z to fulfill their MCLE compliance. June 30 is the MCLE deadline in Illinois and attorneys need to report to the Illinois MCLE Board by July 31, 2011. That’s the beauty of online CLE – you could have waited this long to get it done and still only have to take one class a day to fulfill your requirement online.

Here are some more helpful links for Illinois attorneys:

And if you do need your Illinois CLE we got your covered:

With CLE You Way we have also tried to make it as convenient as possible for attorneys to complete their MCLE compliance. For offline or online study we offer streaming video, streaming audio, DVDs, CD, and MP3 download – whatever works best for your practice and your busy lifestyle.

The Rakofsky Strikes Back …

This week I came across a few interesting lawsuits. First, a local woman sued Chuck E. Cheese for $5 million because she claims that the operation runs an illegal gambling operation for children. Then I read about the blog ATL being sued for $50 million by a man that claims the blog defamed his character by portraying him as a serial rapist.

And then came the absolute icing on the cake – the case of Joseph Rakofsky v. The Internet. No Rakofsky didn’t sue the entire Internet – although he came pretty damn close – but he did sue nearly 100 parties for what he claims to be defamation.[1] Indeed, some attorneys have fallen prey to the allure of cyberspace – Rakofsky would be one such individual.

If you have never heard the name Joseph Rakofsky, just copy and paste his name into Google and see what comes up …. not much of it is good:

Mr. Rakofsky rose to fame because the Washington Post reported on April 1st that D.C. Superior Court judge William Jackson had declared a mistrial in a murder case due to Rakofsky’s incompetence. Judge Jackson stated that there were numerous signs that Rakofsky lacked knowledge of proper trial procedure, and Rakofsky even told the jury during his opening statements that he had never tried a case before.

At any rate, Rakofsky then went on to his Facebook page after the mistrial and seemed to insinuate that it was his astute lawyering skills – and not his incompetence – that had garnered his client a mistrial. “1st-Degree Murder…MISTRIAL!” he posted on his status update on his Facebook page – seven of his friends clicked “like.” This is when the social media storm really began, and Raksofsky’s name and misdeeds spread through the Internet like the death of Osama Bin Laden.

Which leads us to the lawsuit at hand – Rakofsky v. Internet as some are calling it. While the Washington Post claims that he was kicked of the case due to his incompetence, Mr. Rakofsky states in his complaint that the real reason that he was removed from the case was due to a conflict with his client. For this reason, Rakofsky has sued a total of seventy-four parties for what some consider a meritless lawsuit. According to the blog Simple Justice:

The substance of the action is not merely frivolous, but the action was brought in New York Supreme Court, and had Rakofsky’s lawyer done some homework, he would learn that New York’s long arm statute expressly excludes defamation.  The out-of-state defendants are not amenable to suit in New York.

Like the sweet Siren’s song that lured Odysseus to his fate, the temptation of the Internet and social media beckoned Rakofsky to be all that he could be – even if it wasn’t all true. And in an age where monitoring your online reputation has become incredibly important, it seems that Rakofsky has committed career suicide. Because once Google gets a hold of your name, all of your successes & glories, bad decisions & poor judgment are there for the entire world to see. And Mr. Rakofsky will forever live as the posterboy of the perils of social media for young attorney’s hungry to make a name for themselves.

You would think that Mr. Rakofsky would just want this whole thing to die down so he could try his damndest to resuscitate his shattered legal reputation. But not Mr. Rakofsky, he would rather perpetually drag his own name through the mud. A wise man once said to let sleeping dogs lie … Joseph Rakofsky didn’t seem to heed this wisdom.


[1] Parties include the Washington Post, the ABA, and Thompson Reuters, in addition to numerous law firms, legal blogs, and practitioners – he even sued someone called ‘JDog.’ And the case is not actually called Rakofsky v. Internet, this phrase was coined by Scott Greenfield of Simple Justice.

Fee Arrangements: Get Paid for Your Time & Advice

We were lucky enough to work with renowned attorney James E. King ofthe King Law firm this week to put together some excellent programs on fee agreements.[1] The first course discusses the ethics of fee agreements and the second course delves into what is considered a ‘reasonable’ fee.

Mr. King presented numerous nuggets of wisdom, but probably none greater than this kernel of truth:

“If one pays peanuts, one only expects to hire monkeys.”

And as criminal defense attorney Michael S. Discioarro aptly stated in another course on ethically representing criminal clients, you are an attorney, you deserved to get paid for your time – you are not doing charity work.

The fee agreement ensures that you get paid … and a well-written fee agreement means that you get to keep the fees that  you have earned (as long as they are ‘reasonable’). If it does not get you paid by the client, at the very least the fee agreement may save you in an action from the State Bar or a malpractice proceeding. That’s because as soon as an attorney files a claim for unpaid bills from the client, the client usually turns around and files a malpractice suit and seeks to have the lawyer’s fees reduced. Without a solid fee arrangement, an attorney may have his or her bills reduced by 25% or disgorged completely if there have been egregious ethical slip-ups.

That’s why I am so amazed that attorneys routinely operate without fee arrangements or operate with poorly drafted fee arrangements. I have been told by a number of attorneys how surprised they were when they got a hold of another attorney’s fee arrangement and how poorly drafted it was.

Further, in addition to getting paid, the fee arrangement is the roadmap of the relationship between the attorney and the client. It sets the boundaries for the entire attorney-client relationship. Don’t like answering phone calls? If you charge the client for excessive calls, they will be less likely to call you every 5 minutes for updates on the case. Have a problem terminating clients? Make sure to include a clause that makes them pay for any extra copying of papers or files at the termination of the representation. The fee arrangement is the contractual agreement between the attorney and client.

The course is available here: Fee Agreements: Ethics & Reasonableness

I will leave you with one last quote from Abraham Lincoln (compliments of Mr. King) that comes from a speech he gave to a group of young lawyers in Illinois over a century ago:

“A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade.”

Make sure you get paid for your time and advice – employ a well-written fee arrangement with every client.

Further resources:

ARBITRATION ADVISORY 03-01: DETECTING ATTORNEY BILL PADDING

ARBITRATION ADVISORY 11-01: ENFORCEMENT OF “NON-REFUNDABLE” RETAINER PROVISIONS

ARBITRATION ADVISORY 98-03: DETERMINATION OF A “REASONABLE” FEE

Let’s Be Reasonable

Cal Bar Sample Written Fee Agreement Forms


[1] Mr. King is the founder of the King Law Corporation in San Diego and specializes in attorney fee disputes, legal ethics, and advises corporate counsel and law firms on litigation costs. Mr. King has testified as an expert witness on numerous attorney-client fee disputes and has represented prominent clients such as Heisman Trophy winner Rashan Salaam, Prince Fahd Aziz of Saudi Arabia, and attorney Robert Shapiro. Mr. King serves as a Special Master for the State Bar of California and is Vice-Chair of the Fee Arbitration Committee for the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. King also lectures and publishes works on the ethics and reasonableness of attorney fee ethics and other legal ethics topics.

Illinois Attorneys: Your MCLE Deadline is Less Than Two Months Away

If your last name begins with N-Z and you are an attorney licensed in Illinois you have less than two months to complete your MCLE compliance. This means that you must complete 24 credits Including 4 Units of Professional Responsibility by June 30th. Professional Responsibility is essentially a requirement to take courses on legal ethics and professionalism. However, courses in Substance Abuse and Elimination of Bias also meet this requirement.

Luckily, we have you covered if you need your Ilinois MCLE. Many attorneys choose the convenience of our one-click state bundles – your entire Illinois MCLE compliance package with a click of your mouse. However, other attorneys prefer to purchase 24 units and choose their own courses.

As part of CLE Your Way we also have many different types of media formats for you to take your courses. For online study we offer streaming video, streaming audio and MP3 download.  For offline study, we offer CD and DVD compliance packages, and your MP3s will also work with iPods, iTunes and other music players.  You could even listen to our courses with your smartphone!

Keep in mind that Illinois is a self-reporting state.[1] This means that neither CLE Providers nor attorneys submit certificates of attendance to the Board unless there is an audit. Please note also that attorneys in the 2012 compliance period will need 30 total hours of CLE.

For more information please visit


[1] Pursuant to MCLE Rule 796(f)(1) of the Supreme Court of Illinois (IL), Illinois attorneys are responsible for their own record keeping and attorneys must to report to the MCLE Board every two years. The Board only requests an attorney’s certificates of attendance in the event that the attorney is audited.